Long Term Ecological Research: Regional Data for Large Scale Environmental Issues

Science briefing for policymakers
10:00-11:00 AM, June 10, 2014
SVC-215, Capitol Visitor Center

Presented by the Long Term Ecological Research Network

Download the presentations

Overview of LTER

Presentation by Scott Collins

Presentation by Phil Robertson

Presentation by Emma Rosi-Marshall

Three senior scientists from the Long Term Ecological Research Network will provide an overview of how this innovative national research program is capturing long-term observational and experimental data to improve our scientific understanding of how ecosystems, from arid landscapes in the southwestern U.S. to agricultural systems in the Midwest to urban environments in the mid-Atlantic, are structured and function.

The U.S. National Science Foundation established a network of Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites in 1980 to conduct research on ecological issues that can last decades and span large geographical areas. Since then, the network has generated rigorous, site-based scientific research that has led to important findings on regional and national scales. Data gathered as part of these research projects provide the foundation for a global network of nascent environmental monitoring systems funded by the National Science Foundation, federal management agencies and foreign governments. Scientists need these data to understand and explain how earth systems will change in the future. With this understanding, decision-makers will have better information to make strategic decisions that will contribute to a sustainable environment and more stable human social systems.

Program:

Dr. Scott L. Collins, Sevilleta LTER Program
Regents' Professor of Biology, University of New Mexico
Professor, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

Dr. Collins is an internationally recognized ecologist who will discuss how environmental research conducted at the Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research program in central New Mexico provides an integrated, interdisciplinary understanding of how biological and non-biological processes affect riparian, desert and forest ecosystems in the southwestern US. This long-term research program focuses on how environmental stresses, such as climate variability, fire frequency and intensity, and water availability, will affect southwestern ecosystems in the future. Ultimately, this understanding will enable policymakers to make informed management decisions that will contribute to healthy human communities and social systems in the region.

Dr. G. Philip Robertson, W.K. Kellogg Biological Station LTER Program
Professor of Ecosystem Science, Michigan State University

Dr. Robertson is globally recognized for his pioneering research on agricultural crops as ecosystems. Dr. Robertson will describe research being conducted at the Kellogg Biological Station Long Term Ecological Research program that is informing our understanding of intensive field crop ecosystems and how agriculture can provide multiple environmental benefits. Research at Kellogg Biological Station in Michigan is designed to answer the broader question of how agronomic management can better utilize biological resources in cropping systems to grow food, mitigate climate, control pests, provide nitrogen, and build soil fertility. In short, how to make agriculture more profitable and provide environmental benefits.

Dr. Emma J. Rosi-Marshall, Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER Program
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York

Dr. Rosi-Marshall is a distinguished scientist who has contributed significantly to the field of urban aquatic ecology. Dr. Rosi-Marshall will present information about the Baltimore Ecosystem Study investigations into the ecological, cultural, and economic forces that shape the environmental quality of urbanized areas. This LTER program has been exploring the ecology of metropolitan Baltimore and the way urban dwellers interact with their environment since 1997. By building a bridge between the natural and social sciences, Baltimore Ecosystem Study has made important progress toward unraveling how urban ecosystems function, with the goal of understanding the capacity of these socio-ecological systems to transition from sanitary to sustainable cities.